Big glass…

The 18 inch scope is now safely in its new home. We – that is my friend Brian and I – went to Nottingham to collect it today. Brian has a Transit-type van and I thought it would be easier to collect it in that, rather than me drive my (threatening to break down at any moment) small car and possibly find the scope won’t fit. Brian agreed and off we set. Brian works for the same company as I do, as well as being an astronomy friend, so it was no problem arranging to get the scope provided work didn’t raise its ugly head.

David had it assembled in his conservatory – when I saw it I couldn’t believe such a huge scope was mine and I had an initial thought of ‘What have I done here?!’, a thought that came back to me this evening when I was trying to get it through the gate to the upper garden where my shed is. The gap is very narrow and the holly hedge on one side scratched my hand to bits – and put a few unwanted decorations in the scope’s paint work! I nearly had a disaster when I forgot which way round the wheelbarrow handles fitted, put them on the wrong way and very nearly spilled the mirror box off of the rocker box!! If the neighbours had been out in their garden they would have been treated to some colourful language, mostly at the bluer end of the spectrum!
I was going to move the scope around the garden for observing sessions but I will be doing my observing from the one spot in the upper garden until I get used to handling the thing.

When I ordered it, I ordered the bog-standard 18 inch f/4.5 mirror with 1/4 wave accuracy. Most people would go for better accuracy than that, such as 1/8 wave or 1/10 wave but I went for 1/4 purely because I couldn’t afford the extra cost of a ‘better’ mirror. When I collected the scope, David handed me the certificate for the mirror – which states the accuracy is actually 1/8 wave! I’m pleased! The mirror is also an f/4.3, rather than f/4.5, which is a three-inch difference in the focal length. I only need a step stool or kitchen steps to observe at the zenith.

The scope should also fit in my car. David made the mirror and rocker boxes low profile, so they will clear the 79 cm opening of the tailgate.

The UK motorway network was, as ever, a hair-raising experience and always reminds me of a lethal game of dodgems, with people weaving from one lane to another, cutting in on other vehicles – most of the time without bothering to use their indicators – sitting in the middle lane at 50 mph, thus preventing anyone from over taking properly as the outside lane is full of those people who believe the national speed limit of 70 mph does not apply to them, and you can’t get across while only doing a mere 50…On the way back, a large lorry on the two-lane A34 decided he’d try and kill the other road users by overtaking an Eddie Stobart truck straight into traffic in the outside lane – how there wasn’t a multiple pile-up I’ll never know. The Stobart truck, the incongruously-named ‘Poppy Honey’, was nearly as bad, switching lanes every 30 seconds or so. There had been a smash-up on the M3 (there’s always a crash on the M3, it seems almost obligatory for there to be a crash on the M3) fortunately it was in the northbound lane as we were heading south and didn’t interfere with us too badly, apart from causing a rolling roadblock as people slowed down to goggle at the aftermath.

Anyway, the scope’s now in its new home and I’ll get it out tomorrow, assemble it and see how it all goes together. David did show me, as we disassembled it in his conservatory, but only some of what he said sank in. I am hoping to have my first observing session with it soon, but first I am going to put it together and take it down a few times in daylight, so I get the hang of it and can assemble it easily and quickly in the dark without dropping bits or breaking anything!

Many thanks must go to Brian for providing the van and doing the driving over a 400 mile round trip through 13 counties. I know he reads this so – thank you Brian!

Photos will follow, probably tomorrow.